NEW YORK, NY, USA - Jill Craybas has a lot to be proud of - beating Serena Williams at Wimbledon, beating Kim Clijsters when she was No.2 in the world, a WTA title, a slew of WTA doubles titles and playing the Olympics, to name a few - but everyone's time comes to call time, and for Craybas it was at the US Open a few weeks ago. Here's what the classy American veteran had to say about it all...
Thursday, September 19, 2013
I'm sure that most of you know by now that I have officially retired from the WTA tour. It was a very difficult decision, but one that I have been contemplating for the past year.
In December of 2000, with $200 to my name, I decided to take a risk and invest in myself to have the best opportunity to excel. I signed up for the WTA tournament in New Zealand and also for the Australian Open. That leap of faith paid off and paved the way for a life on the WTA tour. With a lot of hard work, and some luck along the way, I was able to reach a career-high singles ranking of No.39, a career-high doubles ranking of No.41, over 10 straight years in the Top 100, several wins over Top 20 players, and a pretty much injury free career.
Tennis has blessed me in so many ways. It has been such a huge part of my life with so many triumphs. There were also many struggles and disappointments along the way, but they most certainly pushed me to be stronger and made the successes even more special. I tried to put the wins and losses into perspective and I hope I handled the ups and downs they provided with equal grace. I have truly cherished my years on the tour as they have taught me so much and encouraged me to grow into a unique, determined individual.
While traveling to compete, I have had the good fortune of meeting so many extraordinary people from around the globe. Thank you to all my fans for their wonderful and supportive messages. My sincerest and heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has supported me and guided me along my tennis journey. There are too many of you to name but I'm sure you know who you are. I will miss you and look forward to keeping in touch!
I would also like to personally thank my sponsors. I will be forever grateful:
I had the privilege to meet with the owner of a young company out of Baltimore, Maryland. The company was Under Armour and they agreed to sponsor me - their first tennis sponsorship. For the better part of the last 13 years (before they even made women's clothing) they outfitted me with their superior apparel. This company was always there for me, year after year. I am honored to have worn the Under Armour name on and off the courts. Not only are they one of the best in manufacturing sporting gear, but they are a team of great representatives. Thank you so much for all your support over the years! Protect This House!
Such a knowledgable and super fun group of people that provided me with the best in tennis rackets and equipment. They always made certain that I had the necessary supplies, even at a moment's notice. Thank you all for always doing your job so well and for the respect you show towards all the players - it is appreciated!
Gu Energy Sports
The energy gels and chomps have been a godsend for my career. They made it possible for me to sustain my physical and mental presence on court through many long matches (and I had plenty of long matches!) Thank you for your support and generosity.
Newport Beach Tennis Club
Thank you to owner Steve Joyce for welcoming me and making the Newport Beach Tennis Club my home base to train. All of the tough training sessions there were a key ingredient for the achievements in my career. Thanks for all your support over the years - I will still come visit!
Pretty cool to have a chocolate sponsor and to have it on hand when the practice or match days didn't go so well ;) Amazing chocolate, and needless to say, I was always happy with the product!
Thank you so much to my family. No matter where I was in the world, I knew your hearts were always with me. You mean the world to me and I love you all:
My parents: mom and dad, I appreciate and love you for being by my side and supporting me. Thank you for setting me free and allowing me to make my own decisions and find my own path. Your unconditional love is the greatest gift! I love you.
My brother: Matt - thank you for always being able to make me laugh, even when times were tough for me. You jump started my career by investing in a coach for me and you always had such confidence in me. Thank you for everything! I love you.
My sister and her family, The Lucatellos: thank you for always having the best big sister advice. Thanks for always smiling and cheering me on no matter what I was going through on and off the court. For always believing in me! I love you all.
And, of course, thank you to my coach, Raj. For taking the chance on me and believing in me, even in those moments when I didn't believe in myself. For supporting me and standing by my side through my struggles and successes. For giving up so much, for listening, for pushing me when I needed to be pushed, for always trying to get the best out of me, and for helping me reach my highest potential. For guiding me back to the passion and pure joy of the sport. The list is endless and I can't thank you enough! I still may want my lessons :)
As for me, I am ready to step into the next chapter of my life. My love for the sport will stay with me, and even though it is difficult to put my rackets down, I am excited about what the future holds. I have so many interests and I am looking forward to exploring all of the avenues that lie ahead. No matter what comes next, I do hope to cross paths with everyone sometime soon. It's been a great run, and I am filled with gratitude to have been able to be on the tour for the last 16 years. Thank you so much to everyone. I will miss you!